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Manager Vs. Coach – A HUGE Difference!!

Stop Managing and Start Coaching

The word “coaching” is starting to be used so often these days that it is truly losing its meaning and effectiveness. Too many mangers/leaders are using the word in an attempt to separate themselves. Words and phrases, however, do nothing to separate those who can and do from everyone else. ACTION is the thing that does that! Below are several actions that you as a business leader can do to stop talking it and to start walking it—Become a coach to your people and they will be your people for a long, long time:

Always Look for and Draft Top Talent

As a coach, you want to give your team the right staff of players so that they can consistently win in the marketplace. The best coaches realize that they must always be looking for and recruiting new stars to their teams. New players keep the team fresh and on their toes. New players to the team may replace existing non-productive players or may help to drive those existing players to new levels of productivity.

A coach never grows his team just for the sake of growing it. It doesn’t always take more players to win, but it always takes the right players. A coach is always looking for the key players to add to his team to help bring it to the next level.

Set Expectations Up Front

The coach brings every member onto his team with open eyes. He works very hard to set mutual expectations up front with his new players. He makes sure that his players know that he will expect big things from them-that they will work harder on his team than they ever have anywhere else in the past-that they will be measured and held accountable to always be improving and bettering themselves-that they will be held to the highest standards of professionalism-that they are the most important people in the company and should regard what it is they do as such-that FUN is not a four letter word-and that Attitude + Skills + Activity will be the formula that they will grow by on this team.

The coach also sets the expectations that his players have of him and the company right up front as well. He allows the players to “hold his feet to the fire” on issues such as attitude, communication, measurement, training, field coaching, etc. All new players know very clearly what their plans are and what they can expect upon completion of all assigned tasks. The team knows that the coach will be held accountable to help them reach their goals. The coach will not let down any of his players when it comes to making sure that they do the things necessary to reach their own individual goals

Have a Clear Plan for Every Player

The best coaches always make sure that every player on their team has a very clear and defined game plan to success. They realize that if they can keep their players focused on their key roles in the outcome for the team, that each player would have a much better chance of winning. The teams that consistently win do so because they have a very clear plan that is broken into individual responsibilities.

A coach will make sure that his players know what to do from the time that they come into the office in the morning until the time they leave at night. A good coach goes the extra mile in explaining each individual game plan to his players. A good coach leaves nothing to chance. A good coach works with his people individually on their game plans so that he can improve his players’ skills as well as their need for personal expertise. A good coach realizes that a player without a plan has no way to mark his/her successes as they come.

Always Training, Teaching, Guiding, Coaching

A coach is a teacher, a mentor, a leader. The best coaches are the ones who are on the field with their players every day working with them on their skills. The best coaches schedule time every day for training of their people. The skills necessary for success must be taught and practiced regularly. People do not learn these things intuitively. Coaches realize that most players, given the choice, would rather not practice their skills. This is not to say that they do not want to succeed. They merely will take the past of least resistance most times. (It is human nature.)

It is important for salespeople to do what it is that their coach wants them to do-but even more important that his people WANT to do what he wants them to do. Therefore, it is equally important that, as coaches, we work hard on showing those on our teams that it is part of the entire culture to train, practice and perform every day. The best teams in history did not stop practicing because they started winning.  They did not stop practicing because they got some good players. Solid coaching requires a discipline towards constant improvement.

Constantly Build and Strengthen Relationships

Even the best players do not respond if there is no trust. A good coach realizes that it may take months-even years to build a solid foundation of trust but only moments to destroy it. Coaching sometimes requires tough choices. Good coaches always make sure that the choices they make do not compromise the trust that they have built. Good coaches realize that it isn’t always about being the nice guy-but is about being fair and honest with the entire team.

Solid relationships are built on communication. If there is not a solid culture based upon communication, it is very difficult to even recognize the challenges, and thus, almost impossible to cure the problem.

Taking the time to forge solid relationships with his people is one of the things that a great coach does best. People will walk through fire for a leader they believe in. People tend to trust and believe in those who trust and believe in them. This goes beyond words.

Are You ASKING For It?

ask for the sale

Here is an interesting question:  Why is it that we, as salespeople spend so long, invest so much time, energy, preparation, and effort on the phone with the prospective and existing customer during the sales cycle only to let the sale fade away or go to the competition?  Why is it that we place so much emphasis and commitment on the process of moving the ball down the field but yet design so very few plays to actually take the ball into the end zone?

We need to realize that whenever we do not actually attempt to create some closure–ask for the business–we literally destroy (or at least taint) all that we have worked for throughout the sales process.  We give up the connection and trust that we have built, the relationships that we have developed, the enthusiasm we have created, and the momentum of the process.  We simply let the sale wither away and die or get taken over by another more assertive, focused salesperson that was prepared (AND took the leap of faith) to ASK for the business!

Do you feel that you offer such irrefutable evidence of value throughout your sales presentations that the customer will simply give in?  Do you feel that your features, advantages, and benefits (FAB points) are so compelling that prospects don’t need to be asked to buy them?  Do you feel that you will offend your prospect or customer if you were to actually ask them to buy from you?  If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you need to GET OVER IT! (and possibly consider another career!) Here are a few very key RULES when it comes to closing the sale:

Rule #1—You MUST ask for the business!

Rule #2—You MUST earn the right to ask for the business!

Rule #3—The customer knows why you’re there!

Rule #4—Sometimes the answer is NO! Deal with it!

Rule #5—If you cannot, will not, or do not ask for the business, someone else will!

Ok, so why does it happen?  Why do many salespeople have a hesitance to ask for the business?


It is my belief that most salespeople do not ask for the YES

because they are afraid to hear the NO! 

Here are some other reasons

Little to no belief in their value proposition, their product, or their service.

  •     A lack of confidence or self-worth.
  •     No connection with the customer, thus no trust.
  •     The customer is in control-asking all of the questions.
  •     The salesperson doesn’t feel like they have earned the right yet.
  •     The salesperson has not discovered any motivators to create urgency.
  •     No time-lines have been discussed throughout the process.
  •     There is no defined sales process that the salesperson can follow.
  •     And many others

The good news is that ALL of these are within the control of the salesperson—the right salesperson.

FACT: is that it is not the responsibility of the customers to close themselves.  It is the job of the salesperson to get that done!  You are not paid to be a professional educator, a professional presenter, a hesitant visitor, or a walking-talking brochure-website.  You are paid to move the ball down the field and to score.  That’s it!!

The web site, the brochures, the advertising, and other marketing pieces often have very little to do with the Call to Action…but you do!  Your territory, products, prices, and your competition are what they are and they do not control your success…you do!  The prospective customer knows that you are there for a reason and that reason is to make the sale. Often, the only thing that stands in the way is you!  Are you willing to make the changes necessary to stay in the game?  If so, take a look at a few suggestions:

Learn how to ask better (more focused) questions to pull out true motivations (Pains-Fears-Desires) from the prospect.  Get to the WHY behind their answers!  Ask questions to gauge the prospects level of interest, understanding, and continued engagement in the process such as “So far, so good?”  “Up to this point, what questions do you have?” “Does that make sense?”

Have a clear purpose for each and every call that you make on the prospect.  If you don’t understand what needs to be discovered /uncovered and agreed upon in the sales process, how will the customer?  Going on a call without a clearly defined purpose and a clearly prepared Call to Action wastes both your time and the prospect’s.

Learn to “set the pace” of the sales cycle from the beginning.  Be in control by constantly and relentlessly moving the deal forward by calling the shots.  Get in the habit of thinking—and asking—“So what’s our next step?”

Sharpen Your (Sales Manager) Axe!

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A major part of my training focuses on the salesperson asking better questions in the interest of “opening” the prospective buyer.  It is my belief that better questions get better answers and that those answers assist the salesperson in “building the case” for their products or services.  This article, however, is not about the salesperson, but rather the sales manager.

A sales manager’s job is NOT to grow sales!  It is the job of the sales manager to grow salespeople.  The attitude and skills sets that they build and develop in their salespeople are the things that will grow the sales for any company.  One of the areas that I find that sales managers can truly move into that COACH role is by preparing and asking solid questions of their salespeople.  Here are a few points to consider:

1-The Pre-Call Huddle

Prior to going on the sales call, every sales manager should engage in a pre-call huddle with their salespeople.  The pre-call huddle should occur well in advance of the sales call.  Depending upon the complexity and size of the potential sale, the pre-call huddle could happen several days or several hours before the actual call.  The purpose of the pre-call huddle (and the questions that are asked in it) is to gauge the preparation and mindset of the salesperson.  The pre-call huddle should include any and all people that could play a role in the acquisition and retention of the customer.  Most efforts are won by teams and it is a major responsibility of the sales manager to create the best team possible for each of the company’s opportunities.

2-The “Coaching” Field Call

Too many managers try to lead from behind a desk.  They gauge the success or failure of their salespeople by the amount of calls they make or the amount of closed business at the end of the day.  Activity management and results management are two weak areas in which a sales manager can find himself/herself making bad decisions.  We need to get off the sidelines and get into the game with our people.  Attending sales calls with our salespeople (whether riding “shotgun” on the telephone or in person) will help identify the areas in which we can make the most impact for our people.  It is on these calls that we can see with our own eyes and hear with our own ears the various approaches that our people take to identify highest value needs (HVNs) our customers and communicate our value to the market.

3-The Post-Call De-brief

We tend to learn from both our wins as well as our losses.  In fact, I would bet that you would offer that you learn more from your losses!  Sales managers need to make a habit to de-brief with their salespeople on a regular basis.  We need to not only get the information of what occurred on the sales call.  We need to understand what happened and why!  Although the information (did it close or not) is important, it is limiting to our growth for the future.  We need to identify what our people learned on the “wins” so that we can ensure we win again.  We also need to discover what our people learned from the “losses” to ensure we do not repeat it in the future.  Understanding what our people know and do not know will help us to design the appropriate strategies by which to assist in their growth on our teams.

Questions are a big part of this.  Here at Sales Coach International, we have recently found ourselves creating many “Question Guides” for our clients.  The process of doing so is more a matter of getting “buy-in” to the importance of using questions in the sales process to open the customer and get the information and understanding that we need to properly navigate the sales process.  Once everyone is on the same page, we identify several areas in which we ask questions and task everyone on the team to send us their top questions in these areas.  After several “takes” and “re-takes” we end up with a solid compilation of questions from those in the field of battle every day.  The list itself serves as a great “cheat sheet” for those salespeople to use on a day to day basis.

The challenge we find is that the sales managers of these teams need to continue to gauge the pre-call mindset and the pre-call preparation of the salesperson in order for the right sales approach to be taken.  Because of this, we subsequently packaged recent versions of the Question Guides to include questions that we want the salespeople to continually ask of themselves before making any call:

1-What’s the Purpose of this Call?

2-What do we Know?

3-What do we Need to Know?

4-What do we Need to “Get Out on the Table?”

These four questions, along with several more industry specific questions are included in the first few pages of the Question Guide.  The interesting result was that what we actually came up with was a “cheat sheet” by which sales managers could continually coach and develop the pre-call mindset and prep work of their salespeople.  The Question Guide becomes a vital part of the Pre-Call Huddle, The Coaching Field Call, and the Post Call De-Brief.

I suggest that you give this a try.  Build a series of relevant questions with your salespeople that they can reference prior to sales calls.  Package that Question Guide with a few of the questions above that will be great reminders for both the salesperson AND the manager as to the things that they need to have prepared for every call.  We like to believe that salespeople constantly need “sharpening of the axes” to keep ahead of the competition.

5 Initiatives to Building a World Class Sales Team

hiring-handshake

I’m sitting here in the Salt Lake City airport for a layover on my way back from Toledo, OH where I just wrapped up our Smart Selling Boot Camp. In this two day course, we do a deep dive on how to build and grow world class, productive sales forces. Every time I finish teaching one of these events, I always enjoy seeing the excitement of the attendees as they go back into their office and implement what they’ve learned. So, I thought I’d do a cliff notes version of some of the highlights from our Boot Camp course.

Regardless of industry, there are only 5 areas that we have to focus on when building a world-class sales organization:

1- Finding Good People

2- Getting Them to Join Our Team

3- Getting Them Trained and Producing

4- Growing Them into Top Producers

5- Keeping Them

In this article, let’s throw the tools in the box to help us out with the first two initiatives mentioned. In doing so, we can take the necessary steps to find good people and to get them to join our teams.

1. Finding Good People

The process of recruiting good talent to your organization is not one that often times happens by chance. Many companies get aggressive about recruiting only when they need somebody to add to their team or when they need to replace somebody who has just left their team. Recruiting is a process, not an event. It must be ongoing and continuous. Can you imagine only going after a new customer when you lose an existing one?

I believe that too many companies out there today are not in a constant hunt for talent, even when they are not happy with the production of some of those currently on their team. When you are dealing with a sales team, YOU ARE NEVER FULLY STAFFED!

For many sales managers and leaders of sales organizations, the recruiting process is treated as a necessary evil and something to “get out of the way as quickly a possible.” Often this is the case because it is the goal of that individual to build sales. We believe that the sales manager’s job is not to grow sales. Rather, it is their job to grow salespeople, both in quality and quantity, on a regular basis. It takes time and effort to build a pipeline of business and it also takes time and effort to build a pipeline of top notch sales candidate prospects that you must actively be courting for your team.

In order to do this, you must first be very clear on what this person looks like. Have you put together a profile for this person? What characteristics does this person have that make them successful? What type of experience does he/she have? What soft selling skills do they possess? What specific selling skills do they have? What computer skills do they have/need? What type of communicator are they? You need to write down, in bullet point format the profile of the type of individual that you would recognize as a hitter for your team. Once that is in writing, get it in as many hands as possible. Let your entire staff know what you are looking for. Let you clients know, your vendors know, your entire network. If you are the only person in your company who knows what your idea of the ideal sales candidate looks like, you seriously limit your chances of finding them. The more that know you are looking, and what you are looking for, the better your chances.

As a salesperson, or with salespeople currently working for you, you realize that you must identify prospective client candidates and then methodically look to get them to do business with you. This is often done through a series of touches such as prospecting calls, e-mails, faxes, lunches, meetings, presentations, etc. Most salespeople continue this courting process for days, weeks, months, and sometimes-even years to get the right prospect to do business with them.

When bringing new talent to our team, we must take the same approach. Once you have identified some prospective sales animals that you would love to have on your team, regardless of where they currently work or what they currently are doing or making, you must begin the same process. Remember, the best prospective new salespeople for you are probably already working in sales, making a good living and are not necessarily looking to change careers. How will you initiate contact with these people? How will you look to set the initial meeting to introduce your company to them? What will you say? How will you overcome their objections? What questions will you ask? How will you maintain contact with them after the first meeting? This makes sense when going after one account doesn’t it? Then why don’t we prepare this way when we are going after a sales professional that could possibly secure the next 20 of those accounts for our company?

The process of continually looking for and recruiting top talent to our teams is imperative when building a world-class sales organization. In order to have the best people constantly surrounding you in your company, start looking now and do not ever stop!

2. Getting Them to Join Our Team

Now that we have spent countless hours, days, and months hunting our prey, we finally have him/her in our sights. They have agreed to sit down with us and have a formal interview. Let’s go back over to our “big-customer prospect” analogy for a moment. Once our salespeople have identified a new prospective BIG client and set an initial sales presentation meeting with them, we fully expect our salesperson to do their homework thoroughly. We want them to know as much as they possibly can about this company and this prospect before they meet with them. We expect them to be fully prepared to ask all the right questions to find out all of the prospects needs, pains, fears, and desires. We fully expect our salesperson to be armed with appropriate responses to all of the potential questions and/or objections that the prospect may have. Additionally, we will have the full expectations that our salesperson has prepared and practiced a very thorough and professional presentation of our company, it’s products/services, features, advantages, and benefits. This is only natural when we think about it in our sales process.

However, when we attract the potential big-dog sales professional to our company to come in and take a look at what we are about, we often times wing it. My mind plays back for me the hundreds of sales interviews that I have witnessed where the sales manager grabs the candidate’s resume, gives it the once over, and then proceeds to find out a little about the candidate while he prepares to vomit all of the reasons why the candidate should come to work for him.

Sitting in front of the sales manager is a person who could potentially create the next 20 big clients for the company and the sales manager decides to fly by the seat of his/her pants. Very little preparation was done prior to meeting with this candidate. Questions were not prepared to discover the true person; their needs, pains, fears, and desires in regards to a career change. Answers to potential questions/objections from the candidate were not prepared and practiced. A very thorough presentation of the features, advantages, and benefits of employment with your firm was not put together in advance and practiced for a flawless delivery. No communication was prepared to show this candidate how we are different, better, stronger, and more beneficial to work for than the candidate’s current employer.

It is our belief that the interview and hiring process is the most important SALE that you, as a company leader or sales manager can make for your company. This process must be prepared well in advance if you are to have a shot at the top talent. Even more so, this must be a system that flows throughout your entire organization. Your entire company must present an air of success and enthusiasm about the workplace-especially when you are bringing in the top candidates for the initial interview. Ask yourself these questions: “Would I be impressed with my company if I was recruited? Would I be excited to come to work here? Would I pull up stakes in my current successful career to come work here?” If the answer to any of these questions is yes, ask WHY, and then work to build on that. If the answer to any of these question is NO or I’M NOT SURE, get to work.

Many sales managers think that money is the only thing that will lure a top hitter away from his/her current career. With lack of preparation, this could very well be true. If that is the case, it’s time for a DIFFERENT APPROACH!! If you take the time to thoroughly find out what a potential candidate is looking for out of his/her perfect sales opportunity and then take the time to truly find out what they are missing from their current employer or opportunity, only then can you design a proper plan for them with you. Assume nothing! You can earn the right to build their dream opportunity for them only when you shut up and LISTEN…. just like in a sale. If all parties at the table want the same thing, a deal can be made. Don’t worry about price until you have established value in a sale likewise, don’t worry about compensation until you have established value in the interview.

Finally, just one more thing to remember about the recruiting and hiring process.

Regardless of your planning and preparation, you will make a bad hire from time to time. Do not become hesitant to take action and make a decision! You do not have a crystal ball. You cannot predict the future. There is no guarantee that every choice that you make will be the right one. There is however a guarantee that if you do not do the things mentioned in the paragraphs above, you will a have much harder time getting your sales team to where you want it. Use the same planning, preparation, and tenacity to identify, hunt, and land top sales professionals for your team that you expect your people to do to identify, hunt, and land big clients. GET BUSY!

Company Culture – How Do You Measure Up?

 

Multiethnic Group of People Planning Ideas

We hear it every day; “I can’t seem to keep salespeople motivated.”  “There is always some kind of problem or issue with my people.”  “They get so negative.”

One of the most overlooked areas in most companies is the environment or culture in which their sales team operates.  At Sales Coach International, we get called in to diagnose problems when a sales team is lacking in performance.  The cry goes out to” Fix Us!”  Often times, we find a stable of talented sales professionals who are starving for recognition, training, attention, coaching, guidance, and leadership.  We find people “going through the motions” at their desks.  We find people who have to come to work to earn a paycheck rather than those who get to come to work to build a career.

The environment that is present in a company is very important to all staff but even more so to a sales force. Salespeople, by the very nature of what it is that they do, are forced to go through very redundant, scripted, and sometimes very repetitive activities such as prospecting daily. After all, as one most aptly put it, “We are in the professional no-taking business.”  It is unrealistic to expect most of your salespeople to be excited to come in and “pound those phones” or cold call on a multitude of businesses every day.  Why is it then, that some companies have huge sales forces that do so with passion and fire month in and month out?  Why is it that some companies can keep salespeople for a long period of time and keep them productive as well?

We believe that the answer lies in the environment in which they work.  We believe that the culture that is created in a sales department is paramount to the success of the team and the individuals on the team.  The good news is that it does not cost a lot of money to create a solid positive, enthusiastic, competitive environment that pulls people into higher results and commands stronger work ethic, more camaraderie, more trust, and more loyalty.

Take a look at the place in which your salespeople work.  How are they physically situated?  Do the newest people on the team have access to the talent that oozes from your top producers?  Can they see them?  Can they hear them?  Often times we see sales departments that consist of many individual offices where each sales rep goes to fight the fight each and every day.  Get your people out of their “silos” and into an atmosphere of excitement!  Reserve the offices for the sales managers who may need to have one-on-one communication and coaching with those on the team. An additional benefit to this is that there tends to be a mutual accountability that grows from people having less limited access to their co-worker’s work habits.

Let the action flow!  If prospecting is something that is done on the phones on your team, make it a team event.  Schedule times where groups of your people do their prospecting at the same time.  By nature, salespeople are competitive.  Let them compete!!  Ring a bell when appointments are set!  Have a contest!  Have fun!  Take the redundancy out of the workday.  Mix it up!

What type of communication culture do you have throughout your sales team?  Do your salespeople feel that they can express their needs to their sales manager freely?  Is there an environment that encourages input from everyone or is it a “head down-nose to the grindstone” atmosphere where it’s every man for himself?  This is an area where we all need to pay close attention.  When a salesperson is new, they may not readily ask questions for fear of looking inept.  Assign a buddy, a peer that they can go to with questions, challenges, and concerns.  It is a lot easier for them to ask their peer how to operate the database for the 3rd time than it is for them to ask their manager.

What do your sales meetings sound like?  Are they run-of-the-mill excuses to get together to go over the numbers?  Do your people look forward to them?  Do you?  A sales meeting is a chance to work on the hearts, the minds, and the gut of all of your salespeople. It is an opportunity for all to communicate their triumphs, their losses, their fears, and their enthusiasm.  It is a chance for management to align the vision, track the goals, inspire, coach, train, and to LISTEN!!  Sales meetings should not be the “you-know-what-runs-down-hill” meetings to beat up an under performing sales force.  Most times, there is nobody that wants to close more business than that salesperson that you are about to burn in your sales meeting.

How many of your people would say that they are overly recognized?  Recognition is one of the most important things to a sales person.  It is almost as important as oxygen! The best part about recognition is that most times it doesn’t cost anything.  Yet, we find that salespeople rarely get the recognition that they need from the company their managers.  There are many things that can be done to recognize your people regularly.  As salespeople, we will go out of our way to make sure that our clients know we care by the way that we communicate with them and tend to their needs.  Why is it that we do not take the same approach with our people?  When was the last time that your salespeople got a handwritten note from their manager?  When was the last time that a salesperson’s opinion was asked in regard to an issue currently being handled by management?  When was the last time that you said “Thank You” to your salespeople?  Every company needs to address recognition as a vital system to be developed.  Success comes by design-not by chance.  What recognition systems can you design for your people?

Within their first 30 days, everyone wonders if they made the right decision to come to work on your team.  Make sure that you develop a “first impression” policy throughout your entire organization.  Instead of going away parties for those leaving, how about a welcome aboard party for newcomers?  Make their first day a memorable one.  Have a company shirt, hat, mug etc. on their desk for them.  Have them set up on e-mail and voice-mail.  Have their business cards printed and waiting for them on their first day.  What would WOW you?  Send a gift with a handwritten card home to their spouse welcoming them to the team as well.  Get out of the box!  Let them know that they are important to the team right out of the chute and they will dig in deeper and become more productive sooner.  Do this, and you will earn the right to expect hard work, long hours, and extra effort.

There are hundreds of other things that can and should be done to enhance the environment in your sales departments.  Challenge yourself to come up with creative new ideas to inspire your people.  Most of all, do not be afraid to have fun.  In fact, go out of your way to make sure FUN is not a four letter word.

Put the fire in their bellies…

Board Room

The fire and passion that is present in too few of our salespeople is found in the belly-THE GUT! The best of those managers who run regular sales meetings are acutely aware of the need to inspire that passion and turn on that enthusiasm in order to spark the ACTIVITY necessary for continued sales success.  As a speaker, I see many people get turned on in my sessions.  I see the fire in their eye actually change throughout the day as it grows and the passion becomes reality.  It is then that I KNOW that they will go back to their offices and begin the process of change.

However, it is way too often that I find the results do not match up with the initial ACTION.  Why?  Because firing someone up is not a sometimes thing!  Inspiration is fleeting and inconsistent.  Regular challenges must be made to pull results out of our people and ourselves.  I may inspire and challenge some short-term change in behavior for many in my workshops.  But it is the salesperson with continual reinforcement, continual access to tools and information, continual support, and a continual “shot in the arm (or kick in the butt) that truly has the best shot for long term success.  That needs to come from somewhere because there are not enough human beings out there with the ability to do it for themselves on a regular basis.

So a few parting thoughts for you on your quest to build a better sales meeting process for your organization:

  • Never have a meeting without a PURPOSE!
  • Never “wing it!”  Prepare better for these meetings than you ever did for any sales call in your past.
  • Imagine your people are your customers (They are). How will you get them to “buy” your message?
  • Become a role model for all that you wish to build in your people.  Success breeds success.
  • Never allow meetings to digress into negativity.
  • Save the data for memos. Use your sales meetings to INSPIRE, TEACH, AND GROW your people into superstars!
  • Have FUN!  Lot’s of FUN!  The mind is its most open to change and creativity when it is in a non-threatening, pleasurable, fun environment.

Sales meetings are a vital part of the success of your sales organization. Meetings run the right way can create better communication, camaraderie, enthusiasm, learning, fun, and overall culture.  Meetings run incorrectly (more often the case) are a major cause of miscommunication, interdepartmental divisions, poor attitude, the wrong culture, and thus, poor results with high turnover.  FOCUS on getting this right and the results you desire are not far behind.

The BEST Management Tool…

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As you head into a new year, the time has come to re-visit your goals of 2015 and see how you did.  What was it that you wanted to accomplish?  Where was it that you wanted to go?  What was it that you wanted to do?  How much was it that you were going to make?  What changes did you commit to implementing in 2015?

Often, when working with some of our “coach clients” we tend to see similar goals set every year.  Some of these goals NEVER actually get hit, but continue to get set every year nonetheless.  I suggest that this year, we do something different!  I suggest that this year, we look at goal setting for 2016 as a new chance to accomplish things that we never have!

“The best management tool is a deadline!”

One of the most overlooked areas in goal setting is attaching a time by which your goals go from paper to reality.  By first writing down your goals and then by attaching a date which they will be accomplished, you set a deadline for your success and thus necessitate that a plan of action be created in order for you to hit not only the goal, but also to hit the deadline!

If you truly want to make a difference this year in your career and/or your personal life, attach dates to all of your desired accomplishments.  Make sure that your goals are written down with a deadline and a game plan.  Get “a win or two” every month versus trying to accomplish them all by the end of 2016.

An amazing thing happens to you when you set a goal, plan your attack, attack your plan, and accomplish what it is that you wanted.  It will change your life forever.  In my opinion though, it all starts by giving yourself a deadline to your dreams. 

 

Give Yourself a Sales Pro Tune-Up Today!

Our work habits, over time, determine our levels of success. Use the following checklist to get an idea of your strengths and weaknesses as a salesperson. Be honest with yourself, and score realistically to get an accurate picture of your professional strengths.

1. Do I take responsibility for my own success?  Do I blame someone else if things aren’t going well? If I am, I am misleading myself.  No one ever has the best price, product or service all of the time. Superstars succeed despite periodic shortcomings of the company, or swings in the economy.

2. Am I truly knowledgeable? Am I doing my homework? Do I understand today’s environment, my products and my direct competition? Prospects are more concerned with knowledge and service than they are with product and price.

3. What am I doing that my competition is not?. Am I continuing my education? Do I have a reading program? Am I continually self-renewing and sharpening my skills? A professional who ceases getting better ceases being good!

4. Am I really sensitive to the needs of those with whom I interact? Do I truly understand their social styles? Am I versatile? People do things for their reasons, not mine. My future success depends on my people skills.

5. Do I understand that I can’t just sell anything to anyone? People buy only what they want. Do I work to learn their most important needs, and how I can help meet them? Am I mastering the sales process and do I know why it works? Do I really understand that selling is the transfer of trust?

6. Am I of good cheer? Is an interaction with me a positive experience? Do I maintain a positive attitude? Do I take myself too seriously?

7. Do I create a good professional image? Do I project whatever my message does and with whomever I meet? Am I visible, available, professional in my presentation, and am I businesslike? Do I exhibit self-esteem and competence? Am I known for resolving the problem – now?

8. Am I a good manager of business relationships? In my career, have I built loyal clients or just occasional customers? Clients give me 50 percent or more of their business while customers give me business sporadically.

9. Am I living on my own fat? Do I add a trusting client at least every quarter? Do I continually prospect for new client possibilities? Have I been a career salesperson for three years, or have I had a one-year career three times? Do I do my marketplace research and pre-market myself before I approach a prospect?

10. Do I make only quality calls? Do I avoid comfort calls with those who don’t produce? Do I understand that I should never make a call without a clearly defined purpose? Do I target my prospects and develop business opportunities, or do I do business with whoever will do business with me?

11. Do I conduct meaningful customer interviews? Do I determine my prospect’s or client’s highest value needs? Do I ask meaningful questions to focus on my prospect’s or client’s urgencies? Do I really listen and elicit what he or she is communicating? When on sales calls do I listen twice as much as I talk?

12. Do I provide quality solutions? Do I remember that the client’s needs come before mine? Do I know that no worthwhile effort is ever lost? If I do what’s right for my clients, I’ll be rewarded, and soon! Do I strive for win-win outcomes?

13. Do I exceed the expectations of those with whom I work-both inside and outside the office? Do I do exactly what I say I will, when I say I will, in the way that I say I will do it? Exemplary service builds customer loyalty and rich dividends.

14. Am I really goal oriented? Are my goals and objectives in writing? Have I defined a strategy to reach each goal? Do I know how much each hour of my time is worth? What motivates me? Am I controlling my time so as to be ruthlessly effective with it?

15. Do I make non-negotiable commitments to my family, my company associates, my clients, my friends, my industry, and myself? At times each of these must come first, and deserves my undivided attention. An absolutely balanced life is probably impossible; but we must continually try for it.

16. Do I express my sincere congratulations to those who have achieved greatness? Do I sit at the feet of the masters, sublimating my ego, and model them? Do I praise good deeds in my family members and support staff every day? Do I always remember to say “Thank you”?

17. Do I understand and practice the Japanese concept of Kaizen? (Constant—if only minimal—improvement) My future will be determined by my success in getting a little bit better every day!

Go ahead, run through all of these questions and give yourself that sales pro tune-up that you know you need.  If you’re willing to be honest with yourself and make the adjustments necessary, the exercise can pay huge dividends.  Or….you can just make some more cold calls!  Your choice.

Use Leap Day to LEAP into 2012 Results!

I am currently on a plane this morning to do a workshop in Southern CA today.  While in line at TSA an hour ago, I heard someone complaining that they had to work an extra day this year for free due to the fact that this is a Leap Year.  Obviously, this is a salaried person; not hourly or commission based and certainly not one with a very entrepreneurial mindset.  I would imagine that they would feel differently if February 29th had fallen on a weekend or if it was a paid day off!  I feel that they are looking at Leap Year in a totally wrong way.

Every four years the world is blessed with Leap Year, allowing us to catch up with the Earth’s rotation around the sun.  This extra day on our calendar every four years affords not only the Earth to play a little catch-up, it also allows every person to do a little of the same—should they choose.  What a gift!  What will you do with an extra 24 hours this year?  Here are a few suggestions:

For the salesperson:

  • Call or send a handwritten note to your top 20 clients and thank them for their business over the past three years since the last Leap Year.  I bet no other salesperson will do that.  Have no agenda other than pure Leap Year gratitude!
  • Schedule 2 hours specifically for prospecting 20-30 new major accounts.  This is like found time!  Imagine if you were able to create a new opportunity with it.
  • Get your butt out of bed at 4:00am and WORK until 9:00pm on all of the things that you never seem to get a chance to.  That is 17 hours of Leap Year productivity!

For the Sales Manager:

  • On Tuesday, the 28th, spend a few hours in the morning connecting with all of your sellers to go over their plans for their Leap Day.  Get their heads in the right place about the day making sure they take advantage of it.  (See above)
  • Spend the day in the field with 1-2 of your top salespeople showing them how to make new sales LEAP into their book of business!  Model the behavior you’d like to see every day from them.
  • Get your butt out of bed at 4:00am and WORK until 9:00pm on all of the things that you never seem to get a chance to.  That is 17 hours of Leap Year productivity!

For the Entrepreneur:

  • Use today as a chance to GROW your business!  Connect and add some value to the relationships with your top clients, your top employees, and your top growth initiatives today.  No maintenance today—just GROWTH!
  • Pull out your business plan for the year and make sure that you are at least one sixth of the way to your goal for the year.  Remember, today is a free day for you to gain on it and surpass it.  You only get this once every 4 years!
  • Have a morning ALL-HANDS meeting to “set the stage” for an ultra-productive, over-the-top, kick-ass day!  How about a “Sweat the Small Stuff—Everything Matters” Leap Day?  Perhaps a company-wide contest to see how many new sales dollars can LEAP to the top line?
  • Make Leap Day a super-fun, growth focused day that nobody will ever take for granted.  It’s a freebie!  If this were football, it’s an extra possession to gain yardage or score.  In baseball, it’s an extra “at-bat” to get a runner in scoring position or to hit a home-run.  In golf, it’s a “Mulligan” to get you closer or to make that putt!  In tennis, it’s a third serve to score that ACE.

…and, for all:

  • Use Lead Day as an extra day to give thanks for an extra sunrise and an extra day on this planet to pursue and accomplish your goals.
  • Use Leap day as an extra day to say I Love You to those closest to you.
  • Use Leap Day as a day to invest an extra 24 hours into making YOU a better YOU and the world a better place for our children.

I read an article recently that stated (in Europe) that the extra day on Leap Year will mean an extra 100 million Euros to the economy.  I would assume that similar gains stand to be made all across the world.  This Leap Year, I hope that some of those additional “digits” drop onto your bottom line!